Itinerary: Hidden Gems of Aruba
I get it—when the glimmering Caribbean Sea is just steps away from your hotel, and there are plenty of watersports to choose from, and you’re surrounded by oodles of great restaurants and shops, and it’s all just so easy breezy, why would you want to stray from the island’s hotel areas? Truth is, it would be a shame to miss out on some of the really spectacular places and experiences that the island has to offer outside the comfort zone of the hotel areas. To get you started, I’ve chosen three of my favorite secluded places on the island—hidden gems, if you will—and added them to a simple itinerary in the hopes of motivating you to get off that beach chair for the day and go out and explore.
Plenty of Jeep, Land Rover, and UTV tours will take you to the places listed below, but I suggest renting a car for the day and heading out on your own so you can mosey along at your own pace. Get Google maps up and running on your phone or grab a map of the old-fashioned variety (yes, they still exist!), and you’re ready to go! (A sturdy pair of shoes and plenty of water is also recommended.)
Stop #1: Bright Bakery, 1 pm
Google Maps: Bright Bakery, Paradera, Aruba
Yes, I realize I just started you off at a bakery! But for good reason—you’ll need some lunch to keep you energized for your afternoon adventure. Bright Bakery offers simple sandwiches and light snacks, but even more importantly, they offer a large assortment of baked goodies, which is the real reason we’re here! I advise stocking up on some sweet treats for a beach picnic later in the day. My top recommendation? The sugar-coated donuts. Divine. Or if your prefer something more local, go for the drigidek, a dense spice cake you can eat by hand.
Stop #2: The “New” Natural Pool, 2 pm
Google Maps: Bushiribana Gold Smelter, Aruba
The “new” natural pool near Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins was created many, many years ago by the tandem efforts of pounding surf and strong winds, so there’s clearly nothing “new” about it. It’s just that only more recently has its existence become common knowledge (as opposed to the much more popular Natural Pool in Arikok National Park). What I love about this hidden gem is that it truly is entirely hidden from view, even when standing right at the edge of the limestone cliff that you have to descend to reach the pool. Of course that makes finding the pool a bit tricky, so you can ask one of the vendors near the gold mill ruins to point you in the right direction, but you’re basically going to make your way over to the water’s edge, just a bit south of the ruins, and look for the top of the ladder that is poking above the edge of the cliff. Once you’ve descended (don’t worry…the ladder is very sturdy), you’re going to pick your way carefully over the craggy limestone until you find the gorgeous little pool.
Go ahead and get in! Or just sit at the edge and savor the beauty of this secluded natural treasure, or enjoy the equally beautiful waves rolling in and crashing into the cliffs nearby.
Stop #3: Blackstone Beach, 3:30 pm
Google Maps: Blackstone Beach, Santa Cruz, Aruba
Unfortunately, you can’t drive along the coast from the pool to Blackstone Beach, so you’ll have to go inland a bit to make your way there. You will pass Ayo Rock Formation, which is an excellent place to stop and explore if you have the time. Just beyond Ayo, you’ll see a sign for Andicuri Beach—that’s where you’re headed. The dirt road will take you through a cactus-studded valley to Andicuri, a popular body boarding spot for locals. The dirt road turns into a sandy one as you approach the beach, so unless your vehicle has four-wheel drive, I would suggest parking before the road gets too sandy and walking the rest of the way to Blackstone Beach rather than risk getting stuck in the sand.
Continuing along the road past Andicuri, you’ll come across some big rocks laid out in a circular fashion on your left. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that these rocks are marking off two blowholes in the limestone terrace. It’s just a little beyond these blowholes that you’ll find Blackstone Beach.
Blackstone Beach is the only beach in Aruba made up of black sand and smoothened black volcanic stones. It’s a very small beach, so don’t plan on laying out your blanket and catching some rays.
Rather, enjoy exploring the three natural arches that also characterize this beach. Yes, three! Of course, everybody knows about THE Natural Bridge of Aruba that collapsed in 2005, but Aruba is home to a handful of natural bridges, including these beauties here at Blackstone Beach.
Stop #4: Kleine Aruba, Boca Keto & Boca Fluit, 4:30 pm
Google Maps: Rancho Daimari, Santa Cruz, Aruba
There are two different ways to reach our last hidden gem, and access from Daimari Ranch is by far the easiest. Use your map to navigate to Daimari Ranch, a horse ranch tucked into a little valley close to Daimari Beach. The last piece of the road that brings you down into the valley is a bit tricky, so I would suggest that if you don’t have four-wheel drive, park at the top and walk down to the ranch.
Near the entrance to the ranch, you’ll find a trail marked with a sign indicating that you’re entering Arikok National Park. Taking this trail, you’ll pass Daimari Beach on your left—a beautiful beach worth checking out. The trail turns to the right so that you’re heading south along the coast. With a bit of patience, you’ll eventually encounter a towering sand dune, and just beyond, you’ll reach our destination.
The huge rock sitting in the middle of the cove here is Kleine Aruba (Little Aruba), called as such since it is shaped like Aruba (locals also refer to this limestone rock as Moro). The beach to the left is called Boca Keto, and to the right, Boca Fluit.
I am always moved when visiting this spot. Enclosed by the surrounding hills, this sandy cove is charged with a magical energy that never gets old. Oh, and remember those snacks you picked up at Bright Bakery? Now is a good time to break them out for a mini picnic.
You could easily continue in the same direction along the coast to reach the Natural Pool, but whether you continue on or not, you will return to your car the same way you came.
Interested in more itineraries for exploring Aruba? Stay tuned!